The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, held his first ever interactive Q&A session with Twitter followers today, and TechCrunch Europe was the only external party allowed in to witness the event. To some extent I was also there to verify the event actually happened!
The session, which was not pre-announced, used the hashtag #AskBoris and quickly took off amongst the Mayor’s 152,000+ followers at 2pm today for a half an hour test session. The significance of the Mayor of London starting to use his Twitter account to interact with Londoners cannot be under-estimated.
Despite having the @MayorOfLondon account for over two years, it’s largely been used as a place to put broadcast-like PR statements and photos. Luckily, some smart people on the Mayor’s team have finally brought him around to the idea that Twitter is a two-way medium. And while there is no official confirmation yet that #AskBoris will become a regular event, on the encouraging evidence of today, it looks like it could well be.
Meanwhile across the pond in New York, Mayor Bloomberg has successfully used both his personal account and @NYCMayorsOffice to get his message across. And #AskMike is a hashtag used in conjunction with a regular radio show.
Indeed, the two Mayors share more than just Twitter habits. The two are both in the stages of trying to push their cities as to-ranked digital cities.
Johnson, meanwhile now has the national UK government’s backing to create a “Tech City” across East London in the lead-up to the Olympics and beyond, with the help Google, Facebook, Intel, Cisco and others.
Here’s our exclusive interview with the Mayor, hastily recorded on an iPhone so apologies for sound quality: